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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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And some we trusted with a fond believing,
Have turned and stung us to the bosom's core—
And life hath seemed but as a vain deceiving,
From which we turn aside—heart-sick and sore.
Mrs. M. T. W. Chandler.

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The early spring months had passed away, the silent process
of nature had nearly reached its full development, and summer
was close at hand. The city parks were carpeted with a bright
green sod, and the elm trees waved over them the opening buds
and tassels of verdure, which were daily forming a thicker and
thicker canopy of shade. Birds sang in the branches, and now
and then perched on the eaves or open windows of the tall city
houses, while the soft breezes, the warmth of the mid-day sun,
the sound of children's voices, and the glow of animal life and
spirit which pervaded the streets and thoroughfares, gave evidence
of the renewing and revivifying power with which summer
and sunshine penetrate even to the heart of the great

It was a lovely morning, towards the close of the month of
May, when Mabel, with a miniature watering-pot in her hand,
stood listlessly gazing from out her dressing-room window into
a beautiful open square directly opposite. She had been engaged
in watering a few plants, Harry's thoughtful gift many
months before; but her mind had wandered from her occupation,
and though her eye was fixed upon the sunny green sward
of the little park, the dreamy smile upon her countenance proclaimed
her to be roaming far away in the pleasant fields of
imagination. Home still had its cares; the present, its bitterness;
the future, its anxiety; but these had no part in her
present reverie, for, giving the reins to a charmed fancy, and,

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for the time, banishing every painful thought, she was dwelling
with fond and eager anticipation upon that ever fruitful prospect
of enjoyment, a young girl's first journey.

Even before she left school, when all the pleasures of freedom
were yet untasted, there had been no theme more exciting
to her youthful enthusiasm, than the confident hope of one day
visiting the romantic Falls of Trenton, the gigantic cataract of
Niagara, and the St. Lawrence, with its Thousand Isles—
national elements of beauty and grandeur, with which she
rightly deemed it desirable to become acquainted, before indulging
still more glowing anticipations of foreign travel.

These were but vague yearnings, however, in comparison
with the alluring visions which had recently been awakened in
her youthful and ardent nature, by one who, himself familiar
with the beauties of American scenery, possessed the power to
kindle her imagination and excite her feelings by his animated
description of the scenes of his boyish homage.

And if the eloquent tongue of Dudley had power to clothe
these grand and picturesque regions with a new halo of beauty
and romance, it may well be believed that Mabel's heart was
stirred with no common glow of delighted anticipation, at the
added hope she was now indulging, of visiting these favored
spots in his companionship, being initiated by him into the peculiar
charms which pertain to each, and being suffered to
believe that the sight of her fresh enjoyment would awaken in
him a pleasure, equal, if not superior, to that he had once
experienced in his own.

Early in the spring, when Mabel's friends were discussing
their plans for the season, she had frequently mentioned her
expectation of spending the month of June in travelling. As
the time drew near, however, and Mr. Vaughan declared his
engagements to be such as to forbid all thought of the journey,
she freely expressed, amid her own little circle, the disappointment
which she felt at the project's being thus unexpectedly

“Why cannot we make an excursion party to the Falls?”
exclaimed Dudley, one evening when, a small party being

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assembled in Mrs. Leroy's drawing-room, the subject was accidentally

“Mrs. Leroy, Mrs. Broadhead, does the idea strike you
agreeably? Come, Mr. Earle; you just confessed yourself at
a loss how to get rid of next month,”—and turning to various
others, who chanced to be present, he found some ingenious
method of recommending his proposition to each.

The challenge, though playfully made, met with general acceptance,
and Dudley had the satisfaction of seeing his apparently
careless suggestion acted upon at once. Most of the
company consisted of this world's idlers,—the acknowledged
drones of society, who were restricted by no claims of business
or of duty,—and the plan and route which Dudley proceeded
to sketch were unanimously adopted.

Mr. Leroy had left New York early in May, to attend to
some important transactions at the West, and Louise was at
liberty to follow her own inclinations; while Mabel, never
doubting the consent of her indulgent father, lent a ready ear
to a scheme which she believed to be designed for her especial

Thus a plan was concerted, which, gaining in popularity from
day to day, soon became the engrossing topic of interest and
conversation between Mabel and her friends; and while all
found in it a welcome source of pleasure, Mabel's heart thrilled
with a dreamy ecstacy of delight, as she listened to the lowspoken
words of hope and expectation which Dudley breathed
into her ear, as he talked of the promised journey, or as she
pondered in secret on the vague, half-uttered terms in which he
confessed his happiness to be in this, as in all things, dependent
on her own.

None of the party were willing to leave New York until after
a fashionable and long-talked-of wedding reception, which was
to take place at a country seat a few miles from the city, and,
in anticipation of which, the fashionable world had been content
to linger in town to a later period than usual.

This festive occasion was now close at hand, and, as Mabel
stood at the window and counted up the days which must elapse

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before the commencement of her little tour, her pleasant reflections
were interrupted by the thought, that she had not yet
found an opportunity to broach the matter to her father. So
confident was she, however, that the independence she had
hitherto enjoyed would not be interfered with in this particular,
that she was dismissing the subject from her mind, with the
simple conclusion, I must not forget to mention it to him to-morrow,—
when her meditations were still further disturbed by
the unusual sound of his footsteps within her room, and looking
up, she found him close beside her with an open letter in his

He replied at once to the inquiring expression of her face,
saying, “I have news from your Aunt Margaret, my dear.”

Mabel started, and a look of sudden alarm passed over her
face, for her Aunt Sabiah had left them a week before, in compliance
with an invitation to pass the summer with her recently
widowed sister, and Mabel feared some accident had befallen
her. “Is anything the matter?” asked she quickly. “Aunt

“Your aunts are both well,” interrupted her father; “this
letter is in reply to a message I sent by your Aunt Sabiah last
week; it comes very opportunely,—it is very kind, very hospitable
in your Aunt Margaret; it gratifies me exceedingly,”
and he handed the letter for her perusal.

Mabel's face was expressive of mingled emotions as she read,
but puzzled surprise predominated; and as she finished, she
looked up with the abrupt remark, “About Harry? I do not
understand it father.”

“Harry goes to L. next week,” said Mr. Vaughan, speaking
decidedly, with compressed lips, and in a tone which deprecated
curiosity or inquiry. “He is to study law with my old friend,
Judge Paradox, and will commence immediately.”

Mabel was about to express astonishment at this sudden
choice of a profession, and question her father more closely,
but observing the expression of his countenance, she checked
herself, satisfied rather to await such explanation as he might
think proper to give.

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He gave none, however, but, as if deeming the announcement
of his intentions with regard to Harry sufficient, went on
to say, in quick disjointed sentences, and much as if soliloquizing,
“Your aunt not only proposes to receive Harry until his
rooms are in readiness, but gives you, I think, a very cordial
invitation to accompany him. I am very glad of this,—I wish
you to know your aunt,—I have not seen her myself for these
five years,—it will be pleasant for you to be with Harry, and
the plan will in every way be a great relief to me. I have just
heard from Mr. Leroy, and find that my affairs will compel me
to join him at the West, immediately; so I shall close the house,
and come to L. to meet you when I return, which I hope will
be before many weeks. I dread the journey very much, but it
cannot be postponed any longer.”

Mabel's countenance fell, as she listened to this programme
of her father's intentions and wishes; even the sight of his
haggard and anxious face, failed to win her from the contemplation
of her own disappointment. She stood silent and
thoughtful, looked out of the window, bit her lip, and made no

Mr. Vaughan, who was slowly pacing the room, glanced up at
length, as if awaiting some response to his own expressions of
satisfaction, and then said, watching her face meanwhile, and
speaking in the tone of considerate kindness with which he
always addressed her—“I hope you like the plan, my daughter;
your Aunt Margaret is a stranger, to be sure, but Sabiah
is there, you know.” Already he had detected her repugnance
to the arrangement, and was solicitous to place it in the best
possible light.

“Yes,” said Mabel, hesitating, “but I was in hopes”—

Her voice faltered as she spoke, but her father reassured
her, drawing near, standing with his hands clasped behind him,
and patiently awaiting what she had to say, while he aided her
with the inquiry—“What did you hope, my dear? had you
any other plan at heart?”

Thus encouraged, she acknowledged the scheme of pleasure
which she found it so hard to forego, explained the route,

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enumerated the party, and, while she forbore to urge the point,
made no secret of her preference.

“Louise is going?” asked Mr. Vaughan, as he thoughtfully
resumed his walk up and down the room.


“And Harry?” added he, with hesitation, “did he expect
to make one of the party?”

“No,” answered Mabel, with a thrill of pain which was like
the sting of conscience, for she well knew that no one had
requested Harry's company on the excursion.

“And you are very anxious to go?”

“I was,” said Mabel, hesitatingly, “Yes.” And with nervous
agitation she stood picking the withered leaves from a geranium,
while she awaited her father's decision.

Her cause was in safe hands. Mr. Vaughan had no courage
to disappoint her; he could far better bear to be disappointed
himself. So, after a short pause, he said, “Very well, you
shall do as you please, my dear; only I hope in the course of
the summer you will find time to make your aunt Margaret a
short visit, at least. Suppose you answer the letter, and tell
her you will come in July or August.”

Mabel promised to do so, and the matter being settled, Mr.
Vaughan, who had no time to waste, hurried away to his office.

Mabel stood and looked after him as he crossed the little
park—her kind, indulgent father, who could refuse her nothing.
How she thanked and blessed him! Her aged and care-worn
father, with a stooping gait and a shadow on his brow,—was
the deeper whisper of her conscience. Did she deserve from
him a blessing in return?

Her pathway, it is true, is free. He has left her at liberty
to go when and where she will; his restraining hand places no
clog upon her footsteps, his love has broken down every barrier
to her looked-for happiness—every barrier save one, and that
a dull, heavy, impatient knocking at her heart, an intruding
thought, a stern and solemn appeal, striving to make itself
heard. Shall she give the strange, unwelcome guest admittance?

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The question was answered by the sudden entrance of Louise,
who was full of excitement in view of the approaching wedding
and pleasure-party, and whose voluble tongue soon put to flight
every serious thought which had taken possession of her sister's
mind. She was criticising and commenting upon various rich
articles of dress which formed a part of Mabel's spring wardrobe,
when a figure of ample proportions presented itself within
the door of the dressing-room, and a loud voice exclaimed,
“Ah, here you are! Cecilia admitted me, and I ventured to
come up stairs without waiting to be invited. Oh, Mabel, what
a sweet bonnet!—fresh from Paris, I'll bet a trifle! And
this is your travelling suit—a shade darker than Vic's, but
beautifully trimmed, isn't it Lu?” And the stout Mrs. Vannecker,
exhausted and breathless, sank panting upon the sofa.

“Throw off your mantle, and take a seat at this open window,”
said Mabel, observing the flushed and heated condition
of her visitor.

“No, no, thank you, let me sit here,” replied the lady, taking
a fan which Mabel offered, and fanning herself vigorously.
“Oh, these are lovely!” observed she, examining some rich
flounced silks which, just received from the dressmaker's, hung
over the arm of the couch. “That shade of green is very trying,
though, and the pink is rather pale. I dare say it will
light up well, though. Vanity of vanities!” she continued, in
a theatrical manner, uttering at the same time something between
a sigh and an endeavor to catch her breath; “What
would Mr. Lincoln Dudley say, with his contempt for finery,
if he should see all this exhibition of the fine arts, as he
calls it?”

Mabel looked up quickly, as Mrs. Vannecker thus quoted
her friend, but the tongue of the loquacious lady did not need
even the encouragement of a look.

“I declare, girls,” exclaimed she, “I say to you as I said to
Vic, this morning,—I almost wish Mr. Dudley wasn't going
with us on our journey. I can't say I think him much of an
addition to the party, he has become such a stoic—cynic, I

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mean,” added she, after a pause, during which she discovered
her mistaken use of terms.

Mabel turned away and smiled—not at the mistake, but at
Mrs. Vannecker's desire to exclude Mr. Dudley from a party
of his own arranging, into which she had intruded herself and
her daughter, uninvited.

“Is he a cynic?” said Louise, absently. “Mabel, what did
De Trou make you pay for those flowers?”

“To be sure he is,” said Mrs. Vannecker, replying to the
first question. “I don't know any better name for him. You
heard how he abused every body and every thing that night
at your house; and last evening I met him at the Earle's, and
such a setting-down as he gave the New Yorkers!—so many
jackanapes among the young men—so many fine women
spoiled by fashion! I assure you, I felt myself called upon to
act as their champion, and trust I was tolerably successful. I
talked him down, at all events—that was one comfort.”

“It must have required a large stock of words, I should
think, Mrs. Vannecker, to defend so poor a cause,” said Mabel,
betraying in her manner, no less than her remark, a disposition
to justify Dudley's severity.

“A poor cause!” exclaimed Mrs. Vannecker. “So you side
with my lord Dudley, do you, Mabel, and condemn society in
the same wholesale manner? Well, I have understood you
were a pupil of his.”

“I do not speak of society generally,” resumed Mabel, “but
an intellectual man, like Mr. Dudley, can not be expected to
have much sympathy with silly women and coxcombs.”

“And how many of us, do you suppose, he excludes from
that list? Not me, though I came under the privileged head
of `Present company,' nor you, my dear,” added she with a
coarse laugh, “though you are so ready to ratify his opinions.
You had your share of the lash, as well as the rest of us;
however, don't look so crest-fallen,” added she, seeing Mabel
suddenly change color and look down; “one must pay some
penalty for being the most popular belle of the season; and if
nobody finds fault with you but a crusty old bachelor, like Mr.

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Dudley, you mustn't complain, even if the world does give him
the credit of being a genius and all that.”

“Old!” remarked Louise, who engaged in trying on Mabel's
new bonnet only caught a word, now and then, of a conversation
to which she felt wholly indifferent. “I don't call Mr.
Dudley old; he can't be much over thirty.”

“I don't know his age,” answered Mrs. Vannecker, tartly.
“I only know he has outlived his good humor. Why, when
Mr. Earle said something about Theodore Marston's beauty
and accomplishments, and the splendid establishment in which
he would instate the lady of his choice,”—and she gave a
meaning glance at Mabel,—“Mr. Dudley snarled as if somebody
had stepped on his toes. I declare, if it had not always
been said that he never bowed at any shrine, and was
not a marrying man, I should certainly think he had been
refused years ago by some reigning star, and had not yet recovered
from the mortification. I suppose he comes under the
head of `poor and proud,' and that accounts for his being such
a fault-finder.”

“Why, I thought Mr. Dudley liked society,” said Louise;
“we always meet him everywhere.”

“To be sure,” said Mrs. Vannecker, “and what is he there
for? To play the agreeable in company, and abuse people
behind their backs. Now, that is what I call being a downright
hypocrite! For instance: we all know how much he
has patronized Mabel this winter—all because he thought it a
feather in his cap to be in the van of her admirers—and now,
I will just tell what he said about her, if it's only to convince
the child that I didn't waste words, as she calls it, without

Mabel stooped down and appeared to be busily searching for
some missing article in her bureau drawer, while Mrs. Vannecker

“You must know we were talking, as every body is now,
about Fan Broadhead's marriage with the colonel, and Mrs.
Earle remarked that she thought it a capital match.”

“`Capital!' said Mr. Dudley, echoing Mrs. Earle's words.

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A most thorough-going, complete, and satisfactory conformity
with the usages of society. Beauty, youth, and all the modern
accomplishments set off against a town-house, a country-house,
a cottage at Newport, and a carriage for every season of the
year. Capital, upon my word!'

“You can't imagine,” said Mrs. Vannecker, “how bitter and
sarcastic his tone was; and Mr. Earle, who is Fan's cousin,
you know, could not help noticing it.”

“`So, Mr. Dudley,' said he, `you don't think there is much
sentiment in the matter.'

“`Sentiment,—pshaw!' said Mr. Dudley, `what has a
fashionable girl to do with sentiment? The heart is the last
thing to be consulted when a New York belle marries.'

“`Why,' said I, `there's Mabel Vaughan and Mr. Marston—”'

“Mrs. Vannecker!” exclaimed Mabel, looking up with
crimson face and flashing eyes, “how could you couple my

“It was only by way of argument, my dear,” responded
Mrs. Vannecker.

“Yes, but connected as you are,” faltered Mabel, “it would
be thought—”

“Nothing would be thought, but what is true, I suspect, or
will be one of these days; if not, you can contradict the reports
that are circulating, my dear; but let me go on with my story,
and you shall judge what Lincoln Dudley's opinion of you is.

“`There's Mabel Vaughan and Mr. Marston,' said I, `they
are both young, and handsome, and accomplished; do you
mean to say that is a match where there is no romance, no
affection between the parties?'

“`I do,' said he, looking at me as if I had insulted him.
`Miss Vaughan has too much sense to bestow her affections
on such a paltry bit of frippery.'

“`And yet, you believe she will bestow her hand on him?'
said I.

“`I do not pretend to question it,' said he, in his decided
way. `Why should she not? All fashionable girls are alike;

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they live for the world, marry to please the world, and
would die sooner than defy the world's opinion. Love in a
cottage is no longer to be thought of. I will venture to say
that I do not know a woman in New York capable of sacrificing
the love of display to any higher sentiment; and Miss
Vaughan is the last who could be expected to prove an exception
to the rule. She has passed through all the phases of a
fashionable career, except the phase matrimonial,—she will
scarcely stop short of the blissful climax.”'

“There, that was a long speech, but I treasured up every
word of it, Mabel, for I was determined to tell you. I assure
you I was quite indignant at hearing him talk as if girls now-a-days
hadn't any feeling. I gave him a pretty sharp piece of
my mind, too, and I dare say he felt it, though he never made
me a bit of an answer, but bowed all round the room, in his
provokingly graceful manner, and went off as unconcerned as
you please. What do you think now, Mabel, of the justice of
Mr. Dudley's criticisms?”

Wounded feeling, pride, and indignation, were all depicted
in Mabel's countenance. “I think, Mrs. Vannecker,” said
she, evading a direct reply, “that it is very unpleasant to be
made the subject of a drawing-room discussion, and in future
I must beg—”

“O, my dear,” interrupted Mrs. Vannecker, in a conciliating
tone, “it was not an occasion of any consequence, there
were only half a dozen persons present, and I only mentioned
you and Mr. Marston, as an instance of a young couple who
were every way suited to each other.”

“But it was a very mistaken instance,” persisted Mabel.
“I have no interest whatever in Mr. Marston, and wish it to
be so understood.”

“Oh, la! what a fuss about nothing!” exclaimed Louise.
“You know, May, if you are not engaged to Theodore Marston,
very likely you will be one of these days,—there is not
another such match in the city.”

“Why, Louise, I don't know what you mean,” exclaimed
Mabel, tears of vexation starting to her eyes.

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Louise only replied by glancing with an incredulous smile
at Mrs. Vannecker, at the same time humming a popular air,
and practising before the mirror a few steps of a new and difficult
dance. “It is growing very warm,” drawled she, in a languishing
manner, “I must go before it is any hotter. You'll
call for me in good season Thursday morning, May. I wonder
if Fan Broadhead will make a handsome bride.”

“Wait a moment, Lu,” said Mrs. Vannecker, snatching
np her parasol and scarf, and looking about her for her
gloves. “Vic will wonder what has become of me. So you
don't mean to have your engagement with Mr. Marston come
out yet, pet?” said she, tapping Mabel lightly under the chin,
as the latter stooped to pick up one of the fallen gloves.

“No,—never!” said Mabel, with a vehemence unusual to

“Oh, don't say that,” replied Mrs. Vannecker, coaxingly, as
she squeezed through the doorway. “Ask Harry to come in,
dear, and talk the journey over with us. Vic has twenty questions
to put to him.”

“Harry is not going on the journey,” said Mabel, quickly.

“Not going!” ejaculated Mrs. Vannecker, in a tone of unmistakable
chagrin. “Do you really mean so? Why, you
astonish me. I took it for granted he was going,—so did
Vic. How came we to be so mistaken?”

Mabel did not reply; and the dismayed lady, after repeated
expressions of self-condolence, left the room, with the words,
“I am disappointed,—Harry not going,—what will Vic

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Cummins, Maria Susanna, 1827-1866 [1857], Mabel Vaughan. By the author of The lamplighter. (John P. Jewett and Company, Boston) [word count] [eaf533].
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